The A-Designs Pacifica is a 2-channel, solid-state mic preamp with custom transformers and front-panel DIs featuring the “Big Iron” sound of the ’70s
The A-Designs Audio Pacifica is a two-channel, solid-state mic preamp that has received numerous glowing accolades by both audio professional and amateur alike. It has been said by one notable user that it has “the depth of a Neve, the midrange of API, and the top end of a Massenburg. However, it would be more accurate to say that the Pacifica has the depth, midrange, and top end of a Pacifica, since there isn’t another preamp quite like it. The unchallenged workhorse of many a pro studio, you can use the Pacifica with every imaginable mic on any sound source and expect a great-sounding track every time.
A-Designs Pacifica Microphone Preamp in one take:
- Two-channel, solid-state preamp with two front-panel Hi-Z inputs
- Captures the sound quality of the legendary Quad Eight Pacifica console with even more presence and high-end
- Very warm and full tone without being dark; wide bandwidth with a sweet top end
- Custom-wound Cinemag input and output transformers
- Input transformer: A-Designs proprietary input transformer with unique winding
- Output Transformer: A-Designs proprietary alloy using the same massive design as the original Quad Eight
- 72dB of quiet gain, great for use with ribbon mics
- Unique DI sends signal through the input transformer for two transformers in the signal path.
- Front-panel +48V phantom power switches, -20dB pads, and phase reverse switches
- Handmade in the USA
INSIDE THE BOX—A-Designs Pacifica
High gain, low noise, and unique DIs
The design philosophy of A-Designs is sound quality first. Unnecessary features are eliminated in order to avoid putting components in the signal path that would compromise sound quality simply for the sake of dubious bells and whistles. Gain is a whopping, yet extremely quiet (-128dB EIN) 72dB, which makes it a friendly port of call for itinerant ribbon mics. The Pacifica also has a pair of front-panel instrument inputs that are unique in the annals of DIs. For added richness, their signal is routed through both input and output transformers, which is why engineer-producers such as Grammy-winner Dylan Dresdow run keyboards through the Pacifica’s DIs for their ability to enhance the direct sound.
Linear wide-bandwidth design for in-band realism
Its wide-bandwidth design (9Hz-101kHZ) minimizes phase shift in the upper harmonics past 20kHz*, which has a noticeable impact in the audible range. Because the Pacifica’s bandwidth is extended and flat beyond 20kHz, it performs more transparently, with more realistic space and depth, and better-perceived realism. Instrument harmonies also are perceived to blend better. The Pacifica’s linear response down to 9Hz also minimizes phase shift in the low frequencies, which is the secret to a big sound and solid bass. And, as many reviews attest, the Pacifica is well known for its smooth, rich highs and solid lows.
Custom transformers for the “Big Iron” sound of the ’70s
The Pacifica also features custom-designed, Cinemag input and output transformers, which are key to providing the “big iron” sound that has dominated popular music for decades. If you’re not sure why transformers are such a big deal, it was Mr. Rupert Neve who first discovered their importance in creating musically satisfying solid state audio devices.
Founded by Ed Reichenbach, who started out winding transformers for Altec-Lansing, Cinemag is the transformer manufacturer of choice in the audio and film industry. It was Reichenbach who provided the transformers for the legendary Quad Eight console, and his son, the late Tom Reichenbach who worked closely with A-Designs to create the proprietary transformers that give the Pacifica its extraordinary sound. The combination of wide-bandwidth transparency and transformer iron are what give the Pacifica its special ability to provide realism with a little something extra. (Improving on reality is always a good thing.)
Front-panel -20dB pads for added sonic options
Another useful feature are the front-panel -20dB pad switches for taming hot input signals. While many preamps claim that their pads don’t alter the unit’s sound quality apart from gain, this is rarely true. Rather than try to hide that fact, the pads of the Pacifica not only attenuate hot input signals, they also give you another sonic option, with a rich midrange and slightly rolled-off highs, perfect for loud and overly bright sound sources. In fact, the Pacifica’s pads produce such a pleasing sound, you may find yourself using them even when you’re in no danger of clipping.
* A signal that’s 3dB down at 25kHz can show a measured in-band phase shift of roughly -50 degrees (10kHz!).
OUTSIDE THE BOX—A-Designs Pacifica
With boat-anchor heft and build-quality, the Pacifica sports a rich, cream-colored front panel with muted red aluminum knobs, plus red and gray buttons, paying homage to the colors of the Quad Eight console that inspired it. Its features are limited to just what an engineer needs to get the job done: phantom power, -20dB pad, and phase reverse on each channel. The rear panel has balanced XLRM and XLRF connectors, labeled A and B, plus a IEC receptacle that can accept 100/120/230V AC for international use.
If you’ve been trying to decide which preamp to buy next, or are taking your first steps into high-end preamplification, order a Pacifica and never think about preamps again—just making great-sounding records. For more information, call or chat with your Westlake Pro Sales Consultant today.
A-Designs Pacifica specifications:
- Two-channel, solid state preamp with two front-panel Hi-Z inputs.
- Captures the sound quality of the legendary Quad Eight Pacifica console with even more presence and high-end.
- Very warm and full tone without being dark; wide bandwidth with a sweet top end.
- Custom-wound Cinemag input and output transformers.
- Input transformer: A-Designs proprietary input transformer with unique winding.
- Output Transformer: A-Designs proprietary alloy using the same massive design as the original Quad Eight.
- 72dB of quiet gain, great for use with ribbon mics.
- Unique D.I. design sends signal through the input transformer for two transformers in the signal path.
- Balanced XLR I/O.
- Phase reversal (each channel).
- -20dB pad (each channel).
- +48V phantom power (each channel).
- Solid construction, handmade in the USA.
- Frequency response: 9Hz-101KHz.
- Input impedance: 1500 ohm
- Gain range: 72dB.
- Noise (EIN): -128dB.
- Phantom power: Switchable 48V.
- Mic input phase: Switchable 0 -180°.
- Instrument Input Jack 1/4”
- Output: Balanced XLR
- Distortion: Less than 1%.
- Power requirements: 100/120/230 VAC – 23W.
- Dimensions: 19” x 1-3/4” x 10”
- Weight: 11 lb.
- Shipping weight: 12.5 lb.